LOWELL | The excitement of opening night is timeless. Generational. Fans with big dreams pack stadiums throughout Indiana, just like they did at The Inferno in Lowell.
Crown Point and the Red Devils played a great game Friday. Then, the students and student-athletes had choices to make after the electric lights were shut off.
Some are life-giving. Some are dangerous.
The biggest issue with poor choices is that most teenagers believe they are invincible. Eternal.
“I know I did,” said Cole Midgett, a 2011 Lowell grad. “I thought I would live forever no matter what I did.”
That's what he thought on June 16. A night of drinking and partying ended when his Chevy Equinox hit a tree on a country road. How bad was it? His coach, Kirk Kennedy, was packing in Bloomington to drive to North Judson.
He got a phone call.
“I went back inside to get a suit,” Kennedy said. “I thought I was going to a funeral.”
Broken right ankle. Right femur blew through his hip, shattering it. Left pinky was torn off. Two broken ribs. Cracked sternum. Broken vertebra. Lacerations on spleen and liver.
The worst, though, was a torn ascending aorta, the same condition that killed Lady Diana.
“I should've bled to death,” Cole said.
By the way, his nearly lifeless body was found on Father's Day.
“When I got to St. Anthony's he wasn't breathing,” said John Midgett, Cole's father, who was working the chains Friday night. “All I did was pray. I begged God not to take my boy.”
The handsome lad who was expected to be a star at St. Xavier this fall, the same kid who led Lowell to the 2009 Class 4A state championship game, now has scars on his face, a long one on his forehead going down to his healing broken nose.
Midgett has no plans for plastic surgery.
“I'm going to keep it,” Midgett said. “Not many get the chance I've had to learn the lesson I have. I should've died. There is so much that I wouldn't have been able to do.”
John Midgett had to clean out the car. He said the change holder was filled with 3 or 4 inches of his son's blood. The brake pedal was underneath the driver's seat.
The engine was sitting on his lap.
It took emergency workers almost an hour to extricate him with the Jaws of Life. About 5 in the morning someone was driving by just as the accident happened.
Otherwise he might have died.
“I know, I know,” he said, before the Bulldogs' 16-12 win.
The C.P. game was only the second Lowell game he's seen since graduating. He was pumped to see the Black and Red again.
He also was pumped to be alive and hopes people won't follow his foolish ways.
“I'd be a liar if I said that was the first time I drove drunk,” Cole said. “I heard all the speeches in high school. They went in one ear and out the other. I talked with my mom and dad. I am so thankful that I got a second chance.”
Not everyone gets a miracle like this. Choose wisely.